I adore flowers of all kinds, but I must confess that my favorite types look as if they belong to a cottage garden, which probably explains why I am wild about penstemons.

The pink flowers of Parry’s penstemons (Penstemon parryi) adds welcome color to a spring garden.

Photo: The pink flowers of Parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi) adds welcome color to a spring garden.

I adore flowers of all kinds, but I must confess that my favorite types look as if they belong to a cottage garden, which probably explains why I am wild about penstemons.

There are many different species of penstemon with varying colors, ranging from shades of pink to red with some white ones thrown in.  

Firecracker penstemons (Penstemon eatonii) adds vibrant color to a hummingbird demonstration garden.

Photo: Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) adds vibrant color to a hummingbird demonstration garden.

All penstemons are native to the western half of North America where they thrive in well-drained soil.  Most grow in higher elevations, and all are drought tolerant.  For those of you who love to grow native plants that are low-maintenance, penstemons are a must-have.

The 4 - 6 foot flowering spikes of Palmer's penstemons (Penstemon palmeri) lightly perfume the air of this desert landscape.

Photo: The 4 – 6 foot flowering spikes of Palmer’s penstemon (Penstemon palmeri) lightly perfume the air of this desert landscape.

I like plants that add a touch of drama to my garden and penstemon do a great job at that when they send up their flowering spikes that tower over their lower cluster of leaves.  Bees and hummingbirds love their flowers and it is fun to watch their antics as they sneak inside the flowers for nectar.

A row of rock penstemons (Penstemon baccharifolius) adds lovely color to this area at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Photo: A row of rock penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius) adds lovely color to this area at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

While penstemon may look rather delicate, it is anything but as it can survive temperatures over 100 degrees and temperatures that dip anywhere from 15 degrees Fahrenheit all the way down to -30 degrees, depending on the species.  

firecracker penstemons (Penstemon eatoni)

The bloom time for penstemon depends on the species as well as the climate they grow in.  For desert dwellers like me, most bloom in late winter into spring.  Each year, I eagerly await the appearance of the first unfolding flowering spikes of my firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatoni)  to emerge in January.

Parry’s penstemons (Penstemon parryi)

In my garden, Parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi) is another favorite of mine in the garden, and its flowers begin to open in late February.  This year, I am growing pineleaf penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius), which is a new one for me and I am curious to see how it will do.

Another penstemon that I am anxious to try is rock penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius), which blooms spring through fall.  Lastly, I have added Palmer’s penstemon (Penstemon palmeri) to my garden.  I used to grow it years ago and was happy to incorporate it back into my landscape.

It’s important to note that penstemon grows best when grown in the western half of North America.  The season in which they bloom can vary depending on the USDA zone.  In my zone 9 garden, I begin to appear in January and last through spring. For those who live in colder climates, penstemon will bloom later in spring or even begin flowering in summer.  However, no matter when they bloom, penstemon are sure to add beauty to the landscape with a touch of drama.

**Do you have a favorite penstemon?

I absolutely love to travel and one of my favorite destinations is Europe.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit in recent years, but my daughter and her husband were able to travel there this summer and visited three different countries – France, Germany and Italy.

Love to travel

Love to travel

When they returned, I couldn’t wait to hear about their adventures and view their photos.  I was particularly touched by the fact that my daughter took the time to take some pictures of some of the beautiful flowering plants they saw in Germany.

love window boxes

 I just love window boxes….don’t you?

The reason it meant a lot to me is that my oldest daughter is not particularly into gardening – but that could be because she lives in an apartment and has no space for gardening 😉  So, the fact that she took the time to take photos for me to share with me meant a lot.

I do not know what all of these flowering plants are and would love some help with identifying some of them 🙂

Geraniums

Geraniums, Verbena and Chamomile? Don’t you love the stone planter?

Germany has a special place in my heart because years ago, my grandparents were transferred there for work when I was young.  As a result, I spent two summers in Germany as a child along with my parents and siblings.  

Love to travel

We spent our time in Frankfurt where my grandparents lived.  I remember the large field of strawberries that were grown in the back garden and the struggle keeping the rabbits away.  But mostly, I remember how delicious the strawberries tasted.

Lobelia

 Lobelia I grow this beautiful annual in the winter months.

A couple of times a week, a local farmer would drive up our street and open up his van which contained a plentiful harvest of all sorts of fruit and vegetables.  Wouldn’t it be great if the farmer delivered produce straight from the farm nowadays?

little garden gnomes

Okay, I just love this photo of little garden gnomes.

I find it interesting how certain smells can bring a crystal clear memory to my mind.  To this day, the smell of bus exhaust reminds me of a cobblestone street in downtown Frankfurt.

my daughter's favorite flower

These were my daughter’s favorite flower that she saw. Any ideas what type of flower this is?

On my kitchen wall is the beautiful cuckoo clock that my grandparents brought back from Germany.  Growing up, we loved hearing it cuckoo on the hour and dancing to the music that played afterward as the tiny figurines twirled in a circle.

beautiful flower

Isn’t this a beautiful flower? Any ideas what it is? 

Our cuckoo clock has not worked for many years and I keep meaning to get it fixed so that my kids can enjoy it as I did as a child.

Beautiful red roses

Beautiful red roses.

Both my husband and I have some German ancestry and I hope to be able to visit there again and experience the beauty that Germany has to offer.

Love to travel

Are there any places that have a special place in your heart for, or that you yearn to visit someday?

A Hummingbird Magnet

Do you like hummingbirds?

If so, you may want to make sure that you have some autumn sage (Salvia greggii) growing in your garden – it is a hummingbird magnet.

A Hummingbird Magnet

While red is the most common color of this small shrub, it also comes in other colors including shades of pink, purple, coral and white.

A Hummingbird Magnet

It has has a long bloom period in low desert gardens, beginning in fall and lasting until late spring. When growing in the flat desert, plant it in a filtered shade for best results.  Prune back by 1/2 its size in early March.

Angelita Daisy

  Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) syn. Hymenoxys acaulis

Angelita daisy is a beautiful, small perennial that is a reliable producer of yellow daisy-like flowers throughout the year. The heaviest blooms occur in winter and spring, which makes this little plant an asset to the landscape. They grow to approximately 10″ high and up to 18″ wide. 

Angelita Daisy

Plant angelita daisy in full sun for best appearance and in well-drained soils.  Add compost to the planting hole so that resulting mixture is 1 part native soil to 1 part compost. 

Periodic pruning of the flowers helps to promote additional flowering.  No supplemental fertilizer is needed.

Angelita Daisy

I have used angelita daisy many times in landscapes that I have managed, and they are very low-maintenance. They are among my top ten favorite plants and I use them often when designing new landscape areas. Angelita looks best when planted in groups of 3 – 5. Their yellow color accent purple and red flowering plants. They especially look nice when planted next to boulders in the landscape.

For more information on how to grow this attractive, flowering perennial, check out my Houzz article:

 

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